August 1, 2014

NGO FILES VENEZUELA CONCERNS TO UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
The Venezuelan Government's response to the 2014 protests brings into question its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Washington, DC - Yesterday, Friends of a Free Venezuela made a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee on a list of issues for the examination of the Fourth Periodic Report of Venezuela. The briefing challenged the Government of Venezuela's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

It asserted that the Government of Venezuela's response to protests over high levels of violence, corruption, inflation and scarcity of basic goods raises concerns under several articles of the ICCPR:

  • Article 6: Right to Life
  • Article 7: Freedom from Torture
  • Article 19: Freedom of Opinion & Expression
  • Article 21 & 22: Right to Peaceful Assembly & Freedom of Association
  • Article 14: Due Process Rights and the Right to a Fair Trial

According to the submission, the Government of Venezuela has continued a long tradition of intimidating, censoring and prosecuting Venezuelans who are critical of President Maduro or his political agenda. Since the protests in February 2014, there have been forty protest-related deaths, reports of excessive force against protestors, torture without impunity against political prisoners, severe restrictions placed on freedom of opinion, expression, association and assembly as well as repeated violations of due process rights.

There are approximately 3,238 individuals detained for political purposes - 237 of whom are underage - as of July 2014. Of those, only 340 have been granted full freedom, while 2,066 have been freed with injunctions. Several opposition leaders remain jailed in a military prison, including Mayors Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano, Police Commissioner Salvatore Lucchese and opposition leader Leopoldo López.

"The Government of Venezuela has demonstrated total disregard for the laws enshrined in its own Constitution and those of international treaties like the ICCPR," noted Rob Gluck, President of Friends of a Free Venezuela. "Mayors Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano, Police Commissioner Salvatore Lucchese and opposition leader Leopoldo Ló pez are all political prisoners detained for exercising their right of free expression and peaceful assembly. For these "crimes" they are subjected to extended solitary confinement - a form of torture - with no hope for an impartial trial or due process. Leopoldo López, specifically, has been detained since February despite no evidence linking him to violent or illegal actions. His case is an illustrative example of the absence of impartial courts for political prisoners in Venezuela."

The Human Rights Committee will review this submission during the 112th session from 7 to 31 October 2014 as it prepares and adopts a list of issues on Venezuela.

Friends of a Free Venezuela is a coalition of international citizens who believe in the international values of free speech and human rights and aim to ensure that the Government of Venezuela abides by its own Constitution and international treaties.